Air France Mulls Early A380 Retirement As Group Posts Q1 Loss

The Air France-KLM Group is looking at earlier retirement for some of its less-efficient aircraft as a result of the current crisis. The news comes as the group announced revenue had fallen by over €900 million year-on-year.

Air France, Airbus A380, Retired
Air France is considering early retirement of its Airbus A380 aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

While we previously saw a flurry of financial results from the big US airlines, we’ve been getting a lot of details from their EU counterparts this week. Today, the Air France-KLM group revealed its results for the first quarter of 2020. The figures show a trend that most would expect given the current crisis that has struck the aviation industry.

One month affected the whole quarter

As was the case across the majority of the aviation industry in the first quarter of the year, one month ruined the whole thing. This was also the case with Air France-KLM. The group stated that its passenger unit revenue increased by 0.8% in the first two months of the year.

However, all of this came to an abrupt halt in March as travel restrictions around the world caused passengers to stop flying. The total number of passengers carried by the group in Q1 was 18,111,000. This was down 20.1% year-on-year.

KLM, Boeing 747, Reactivated
KLM has reactivated a couple of its retired Boeing 747 combi aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

All in all, this led the group to produce an operating loss of 815 million euros ($879 million). The group’s revenue came in at 5.02 billion euros ($5.42 billion). This figure represented a fall of 922 million euros ($995 million).

Reacting to the crisis

The Air France KLM Group has been taking steps to react to the current crisis. For March, the group’s capacity was down 35%. However, from April to June, the airline group expects that capacity will be down by 95% in total.

Also, some earlier than planned retirements of aircraft types are taking place. In March, KLM retired its 747s with immediate effect. Although two have since returned solely for cargo operations.

Air France, Airbus A340, Retirement
Air France yesterday decided on the early retirement of its Airbus A340 fleet. Photo: Air France

As of yesterday (6th May 2020), Air France has decided on the early phase-out of the remaining A340s in its fleet. It hasn’t specified the date of their early retirement. However, they will likely never fly for the airline again.

Finally, while nothing firm has been announced, Air France is considering the early retirement of its fleet of Airbus A380s. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The French flag carrier has already retired one of its fleet of ten. Two more have been ferried to an aircraft graveyard in Spain.

Many airline groups are now not expecting demand to return to 2019 levels until at least 2023. With this in mind, it is unlikely that many of the aircraft due to be retired in the meantime will return to the skies. It would come as no surprise if additional airlines also announce early retirements.

Do you think that Air France will retire its Airbus A380s early? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!